Serah bustled through the palace halls until she reached the guarded backdoor to the King's audience chamber. The guards recognized her stout frame from a distance and smiled at her arrival. She was one of only two people allowed to enter the King's chambers at all times. The other person was with him at the time, Commander Arenson.
Serah entered the chamber, but stood to the side and said nothing. Matters of state were none of her concern, but when there was news concerning the Princess, then it was her duty to be informed. And as far as she knew the Commander was bringing just such news.
King Theowen was as thin and long as a beanstalk. He barely seemed to fill the seat of his throne or any ordinary chair, for that matter. One would hardly believe that he was King, by the look of him, if it weren't for the crown on his head. But when he spoke his education and authoritative nature came to the forefront. As Serah witnessed once again during the King's and the Commander's conversation.
"The boy came all the way from Duranham. He brought a message, saying that the village was going to be attacked by Orcs. There were no fighting men, so I doubt they stood a chance." The Commander spoke solemnly.
"What else did the boy have to say?" The King seemed troubled by the news. His voice was grave, but Serah could tell by the way he was rubbing the ring on his right ring finger with his thumb. He was troubled indeed.
"The boy can't read. He didn't know what message he was carrying, since his father sent him away before the Orcs attacked. On the other hand, our troop's attack on the Orc settlement was a complete success. Chancellor Damien has just arrived with the good news. It seems like the Orcs have retreated from their mine encampment as well. The gold is ours for the taking, Your Majesty."
"You know fully well that I don't give a damn about the gold." The King raised his voice. "Have they found the spring? We've started a war, Commander. Not out of greed. Not for gold. We started a war to save my daughter. To find this magical spring in the mountains that can save her life. Have they found it, Commander?"
The Commander was a strong well built man, but now he looked pale and seemed to shrink back into his clothes. Deserved him right. He should know better that the Princess's life was all that mattered to the King. After he lost his wife, he didn't want to also lose his only child.
"We have men searching for it, Your Majesty. The mountains are not easily searched, but I assure you. We will find that spring."
"Good. You are dismissed!" The King saw Serah and turned his head towards her with a smile.
"Your Majesty? There is still the matter of training men to fight the Orcs. I was hoping..."
"Are you my Commander or not, Arenson? Training men and fighting a war is part of your job description. So do it! You have my approval to train whoever, however you want."
"Yes, Your Majesty!" The Commander turned on the spot and seemed to shoot out of the room as quickly as possible. The King truly should have hired a more capable man. He looked grand in his uniform, his body filled it well. He might even be a cunning and efficient general when it came to preparing for war, but the man still lacked confidence and a strong will.
"Now that business is dealt with, what can I do for you Serah? How is my daughter?" The King's affectionate smile was warm and reassuring. Completely different from what he had seemed like a moment before.
"I heard of the news the Commander was bringing. I'm sorry to discover that the spring has not yet been found. All things considered though, the Princess is doing well. She felt strong enough today to go for a walk in the garden. Don't worry, I was with her all the time and we took several breaks for her to rest."
"Are you sure that she is well enough for such strenuous activities?" He raised his eyebrows in concern.
"I'm confident that giving her body movement is one of the healthiest activities she can do. Especially, in the fresh air. If she were to lie in bed all day, then her muscles would stiffen and soon she wouldn't be able to move at all. She is weak Your Majesty, but she is still a young woman that needs to move as freely as possible."
"I trust in your expertise, Serah. I just worry, that is all. If there is more news, concerning the spring, I will let you know. Please, return to my daughter and take care of her. You are all she has and as you well know, she is all that I have."
"Yes, Your Majesty. Don't worry about the Princess. She is in good hands." With those words, Serah left the chamber, leaving the King on his own, worrying about his daughter and the war that he started, just to have a chance of saving her life.